John Mikhail Asfour was born in Aiteneat, Lebanon in 1945 and he moved to Canada in 1968. In addition to publishing poetry, Asfour has edited and introducted a collection entitled: When the Words Burn: An Anthology of Modern Arabic Poetry. This project likely grew out of his Ph.D. theses (McGill University, 1984) that bears the title: An Anthology of Modern Arabic Poetry, 1945-1984: With a Critical Introduction. Several of his own collections of poetry have been translated into Arabic and published in Lebanon. Asfour resides in Montreal.
Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011.
PS8551 .S36 B55 2011
Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)
Blinded by a grenade in Lebanon as a teenager, poet John Asfour came to Canada armed with James Joyce’s words, “For the eyes, they bring us nothing. I have a hundred worlds to create and I am only losing one of them.” Blindfold investigates the ways in which disability influences our lives and is magnified in our minds. In a series of thematically linked poems, Asfour draws the metaphor of the blindfold across the eyes of sighted citizens who are impaired by estrangement, emotional complexity, and social pressures.
A sense of exile and belonging dominates the poems, following the journey of a blind man whose life in his new land has been hampered by prejudice and barriers to communication. Exposing the rich and surprising possibilities of a life that has undergone a frightening transformation, Blindfold relates feelings of loss, displacement, and disorientation experienced not only by the disabled but by everyone who finds themselves separated from the norm.
Fields of My Blood
Montreal: Empyreal, 1997.
Land of Flowers and Guns
Montreal: DC Books, 1981.
Nisan: A Book of Poetry
Fredericton, N.B.: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1976.
One Fish From the Rooftop: Poems
Dunvegan, Ont.: Cormorant Books, 1992.
The small village of Aitaneat in Lebanon grows for the reader through evocative detail and memory, counterpointed with St. Henri in Montreal and the more ambiguous locations of searching and loss. These poems are intensely lyrical and full of sentiment–the focus of memory–juxtaposing life in the new world of Montreal, with its Burger Bliss restaurants and St. Henri poor, with the rich and painful life of Aitaneat, ravaged by war but rich in history and family and local legend.